GM nominates pharmaceutical company exec to join board

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Friday it is nominating the CEO of Novartis International AG, a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, to join the board of directors.

The Detroit automaker also announced longtime board member E. Neville Isdell, 71, will not stand for re-election to the board in June because of the board's retirement policy at age 72. His retirement is the second for the board this year.

Joseph Jimenez, 55, who has served as CEO of Novartis since 2010, will stand for election at GM's annual stockholders' meeting June 9 in Detroit. With his addition, the board will have 12 members, including 11 non-employee directors.

"Joe brings a wealth of consumer insights gained from a distinguished career in the pharmaceutical and packaged goods industries, as well as a proven focus on enhancing shareholder value over time," GM Chairman Tim Solso said in a statement. "We look forward to leveraging his expertise in product innovation and global consumer markets."

Jimenez joined Novartis in 2007, and previously served as non-executive director of AstraZeneca PLC, in the United Kingdom and as an adviser for the Blackstone Group, a private equity organization in the U.S. He also has held senior leadership positions at H.J. Heinz Co. and Clorox Co., where he began his career in 1984.

Isdell, former chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., has served on GM's board since July 2009 when it emerged from bankruptcy and was on the board for General Motors Corp. from 2008 to 2009.

Solso and GM CEO Mary Barra thanked Isdell for his leadership and contributions to GM.

"We have made significant progress and benefited greatly from Neville's insight and experience, especially in global brand management," Barra said in a statement.

Last month, GM said Erroll B. Davis, a retired superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools, had notified the company he plans to retire from the board and wouldn't seek re-election at the company's annual meeting. Davis, 70, joined the GM board in July 2009 and previously served as a member of the General Motors Corp. board from 2007 to 2009.

In February, GM's board added Linda Gooden, former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp. Gooden, 62, started her career at the former Packard Electric Division of GM.

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